Software, sensors and AI enable rPATH to find the right path during a fire

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Two different emergencies touched Meghana Joshi’s life, got her thinking, and led her to develop what could be a life-saving device that’ll protect people and property during a fire.

Rajesh Joshi

rPATH (which stands for the Right Path), is a solution she and her husband, IT expert Rajesh Joshi initially named Fire Life Safe. It’s an emergency alert system combining software, stationary sensors, AI and computer modeling, to provide valuable info to residents and first responders during a fire.

The system is being developed further to be used in other emergencies, such as in the case of an active shooter on a school campus.

That sort of event is part of what got her thinking about the subject in the first place. In 2017, there was a rumored mass shooting at her daughter’s high school, shocking the mother. Meghana got a text about it and went to pick up her daughter, a junior, who was fine.

It turned out that no such catastrophe had occurred. But two students of the school were taken into police custody after it was learned they’d planned a Columbine-style attack at the school.

A few months later, there was a devastating fire at an Oakmont Senior Center, also in California, the Joshi’s home state. Meghana and her husband were watching the evening news on TV when they learned of the catastrophe which thankfully, didn’t kill anyone, though it destroyed the building.

At that time, Meghana’s musing about an early alert system of some sort that could gather info and help in an emergency coalesced. With more than a decade of experience working on a plethora of construction projects, she understood buildings and the perspective of viewing them, in part, for their uses. She was working at the time on a senior’s center, and the near-miss of human tragedy at the Oakmont center hit a nerve for her.

She wondered, thinking aloud about it to her IT guru husband, about creating an alert system that would notify seniors residents in the event of a fire. She knew from her professional experience that seniors need more time to get out of a building, so she figured such a system would be helpful.

And while Meghana has spoken about she and her husband’s invention at the recent AEC Next Expo, the system was not ready for unveiling then. Since that time, they’ve tested a prototype of their invention. They will unveil it on June 6, at the AIA national convention, where she will be speaking.

“There’s nothing like it on the market. We are trying to make it affordable—perhaps as little as $50 to $75, plus installation,” she says. “We’re trying to keep it affordable so that every building can have it.”

The installation process of their system is like a fire system installation. In addition to sensors placed at exits and elsewhere in a building, rPATH has an easy-to-use app that is only active during an emergency. When there is an emergency, it will notify users tied into the system. At the same time, sensors in the system will be talking to each other, communicating info to each other and making decisions based upon that data.

Sounds sort of like other fire protection systems, at first blush. But then, maybe not. It takes responders at least five minutes and often up to fifteen minutes to respond to an emergency, depending upon where it is in the US. Providing them with more info, on the way to the emergency, could be a lifesaver.

“The products in the market don’t relay much information. Our product uses machine learning and AI to give residents and responders a better idea of the nature of the emergency and its location,” she says.

In addition to residents and first responders, others who will benefit from their system, including building owners, who’ll have less fire damage, insurance providers, who will have fewer claims, and the community surrounding a building, which won’t be threatened by an out-of-control in the building.

“Responders will get insight into an emergency and learn where it’s happening before arriving there. And they’ll come in prepared,” she says.

 

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About Author

Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan has written about drone cargo ships for Rolls-Royce, about the use of drones to bring Web connectivity for Facebook, and about drones used in mining, construction and elsewhere for Kespry. A longtime Engineering News-Record (ENR) contributor, he’s helped the magazine win three American Society of Business Publication Editors awards for reporting and writing. He has written about construction tech for ENR, BuiltWorlds and Cadalyst, and for corporations including Procore, ARC Document Solutions and others. A longtime freelance journalist and tech writer, he’s contributed to Fortune, Reuters and other media, and has reported for the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. He earned a BA in Professional Writing and Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.

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